No Man’s Sky is an action-adventure survival game developed and published by the indie studio Hello Games. It was released worldwide in August 2016 for PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows, while the Xbox One version was released in July 2018. The game is built around four pillars: exploration, survival, combat, and trading. Players are free to perform within the entirety of a procedurally generated deterministic open universe, which includes over 18 quintillion planets.
The hype for No Man’s Sky was massive, maybe the biggest for any indie developer ever. My hype for No Man’s Sky was massive, for year and a half I would track any bits of new information they gave us dreaming of this amazing universe they were creating and everything that could be discovered in it, people asked if it was too ambitious for such a small team………then it released. It was too ambitious. Oh maaaaan did I want to love it, but after 14 hours of game-play, I was done. Probably 13 hours longer than many other people. The final product was such a scaled back version of everything they promised that there was barely anything fun to do. I bought the special edition version (I’m a sucker for special editions) at £70 and they had even stuck a sticker over the back of the box to hide some of the features that were supposed to be in it. The buzz of discovering a new planet and species on said planet was awesome at first, but quickly died off when the realisation kicked in that most of the time you’d be managing your resources and mining elements so you wouldn’t die with the odd monolith or base popping up from time-to-time allowing limited interactions with alien creatures.
The complete lack of any multiplayer elements was a huge bug-bare for many players as this was said to be one of the features as stated by Sean Murray, albeit in a different form from the traditional multiplayer idea due to the size of the “universe”. We all heard rumours about Sony pushing Hello Games to the limit with the release date that a lot of the features ended up getting left out because of this, but with the build up of excitement over two years, it left a bitter taste in many mouths.
It quickly got put back on the shelf and forgotten about, other than catching my eye every now and then reminding me of the overwhelming disappointment.
You have to admire Hello Games. To their credit, even with the universal panning they received on release, they have a vision for the game and they’ve been working hard to release updates to fix annoying bugs and introduce elements they said were going to be there in the first place, plus more. The fourth major update, No Man’s Sky Next, was released on July 24th 2018 and has probably been the most major update so far and is considered to be more representative of the game they originally wanted, with Multiplayer now part of the game, the main thing people have been begging for from the start.
One interesting thing to note, which was announced along side the release of Next is that soon after the release, Hello Games has planned its first season of weekly content and community events, so keep an eye out for these as “community” seems to be the main focus in this phase of No Man’s Sky.
The game really does sound like it’s starting to take shape in to the true form everybody was hoping for since it was released….so I decided to re-install it and give it ago, again, for myself.
After pratting about on my original save for an hour to re-learn the controls and to see if anything new stood out straight away (and the fact I got stuck on a radioactive planet with no fuel to leave……my fault, not the games), I’ve started a new game to take in all the new feature from the beginning.
The first thing that stood out straight away was the difficulty options. As I’ve not touched the game for two years I’m not sure if this is a new feature or one introduced previously but I like the idea of getting to choose between normal game-play, Survival mode and Permadeath. I was sooooo tempted to pick Permadeath as it adds a thrilling elements of intensity, awareness and I suppose fear as you never know what could kill you, for good. I settled on normal for now.
Not a huge amount has changed at the beginning as we start off on a slightly radioactive planet, re-named CryoGenik obviously, not knowing what’s happened and near our crashed space-craft. We collect elements and resources to fix our mining ray, whilst unable to scan things yet, and try to fix our ship as we did in the initial release. This process has taken me around two hours but to be fair, most of that time was spent looking at my surroundings and taking in this new world with the creatures and plants I possibly may never see again when the time comes to leave. It’s odd how much enjoyment you can have whilst effectively achieving nothing…..time can pass you by without you even realising it such is the vast scale of No Man’s Sky.
The game already feels more challenging, as soon as you come across your first freighter, be careful! As I was pratting around on my old save, as mentioned earlier before re-starting, I found a friendly one and docked on board, with everything ok, I left and no problems arose. The two I came across before this one, however, scanned us, decided they liked the apparent highly valuable cargo we had on board and proceeded to hunt us down. We got away, not without taking a fair amount of damage, but I can only seem to remember getting attacked only once on my save from two years ago. We’ve had two in the space (no pun intended) of about 20 minutes here. Space freighters are one of the new additions in the update and with option of being able to buy, or even find one in ruins on a planet, gives players the ability to use these as a portable space base…..pretty cool!
Again, on the aforementioned pratting around save which is what cause me to re-start, I came across what I think is a new feature in the Next update, or at least a very recent one……ringed planets. It was beautiful, it sucked me in as if I were a moth to a flame, I couldn’t help myself. I promptly died after running out of fuel to launch the ship and I was unable to find any more as I couldn’t step outside for longer than about 30 seconds without being overcome with radiation. Lesson learnt.
It’s been a busy few days……who’d have thought it it No Man’s Sky but it’s testament to the content they have released and the things I’ve found since leaving the first planet. All good signs so far and what’s more, there seems to be a point to the things we are doing now. Originally when I played, I’d reach the next planet, find a trade post of monolith, mine a few bits and quickly start running out of things to do….I’d leave the planet never to see it again to move on to the next one, do something similar, leave, eventually leaving the solar system, again, to never see it again. Whilst the worlds were fun to look at, they never offered any reason to stay long or return to once I’d left, along with the star systems they were in. Things have changed. I’ve been back and forth to the first three planets on numerous occasions to do quests and side quests after interactions in the Space Stations. I’ve left the first star system, moved to the next one, picked up another side quest, which gave me a reason to need to go back to my first system…….and it’s been good fun!!
As I moved in to the second system, I entered it in the middle of a battle between a freighter and I can only assume “space pirates”. I shot down four of the pirates and as a reward, I got the freighter…..it’s worth 11 million credits, but I’m not getting rid of this bad boy!!! Owning a freighter opens up other side missions including building command rooms that allow you to recruit frigates and send them out on expeditions gaining all sorts of bounty along the way. You can end up with a considerable fleet after some time.
I’ve already downed over 30 ships trying to attack me. This is another thing that has been improved since the release. Originally, flying from one planet to the other was fairly ordinary with little or no worries at all. Now, however, you’re constantly on alert as soon as you take off. This again makes the travelling more fun rather than just a long haul flight between worlds and gives the feeling of a hostile and treacherous Universe rather than a lonely, isolated one. I did manage to piss of the System Police on one occasion though and without the ability to warp when they’re in the vicinity, it took me a good 25 minutes to fly back to a “near-by” space station to avoid them…..note to self, don’t to that again.
I’m still not very far down the main “Artemis Path” as the amount of side quests I’ve been doing and discoveries I’ve been making has kept me more than busy (to the point where I’ve only just received the first message from Artemis asking for help) and considering I’ve got about 15 hours of game time in to it, this seems promising, but as I’ve now just entered the third star system, we’ll see what this has to offer.
This is an “in progress” review, therefore we’ll be updating the post regularly. Do continue to follow us on our journey as we delve further in to what else the game has to offer following the Next update and see what discoveries we make. For now though, Hello Games seem to be doing the impossible and rise No Man’s Sky from the dead and with every update bringing much improvement, hopefully, a fan-base that was in such up-roar on release may forget the past and give this beautiful game another go.
And just for sh*ts and giggles, here’s a rather….interesting discovery I made on my previous save!!